The Abbotsford Convent (St Heliers St, Abbotsford)

Since moving to Melbourne a trip to the Abbotsford Convent has been in the diary – I have moved it from week to week and month to month since last September. Well, yesterday I finally got my act together for a 30 minute walk in the drizzle to arrive at the delightful grounds of the venue that now houses an arts, learning and cultural faculty plus a selection of dining options and an array of markets hosted there weekly.

My lovely friend Khara (who, sadly for me, is leaving for the UK in a few months) and I explored the handmade crafts and alternative wares of those who braved the Melbourne winter to show their labours of love. We headed into the gorgeous historic building and had a look at some art works and a selection of coffee table books and Penguin Classics.

Feeling peckish we headed to Lentil As Anything, a charming not-for-profit community organisation which delivers a dining experience where you pay what you think your meal/experience is worth. The buffet begins at noon with a generous choice of around 12 dishes. Yesterday the theme was Sri Lankan cuisine, all vegetarian as the name of the concept may suggest. After sipping chai lattes (how very lentil!) we collected out plates and cutlery and joined the mixed bag of people lined up to try a bit of everything: lasagna, beetroot salad, savoury rice, battered cauliflower, curries, mixed vegetables, potato and pineapple bake, and Sri Lankan breads with condiments were some of the choices.

Upon leaving we paid $20 each – which may be a generous donation for the vegetarian meal … I guess the real value for me is the trust and honesty payment system. In our increasingly cynical world where we spend more time online than in face-time (although social media is brining back a sense of community … this is a whole other conversation for another time!) this kind of business is one that leaves you feeling an old fashioned kind of  ‘good’.

I suggest you check out Lentil As Anything at the Convent or at their St Kilda or Footscray location. It is just lovely.


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